World community must help Venezuela to end humanitarian crisis - Lima Group bloc

FILE PHOTO: A protester holds a national flag during a rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

GATINEAU, Quebec (Reuters) - The world needs to stop the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, hit by political conflict and a collapsing economy, members of the Lima Group regional bloc said on Thursday.

The group backs Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognised by more than 50 countries as the legitimate president. It wants President Nicolas Maduro to quit and call elections but he has refused.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne opened a meeting of the group by saying the crisis continued to deepen and noted almost 5 million people have fled the country.

"The world needs to come together to stop the human tragedy in Venezuela and the Lima Group can and must play a leading role in that effort ... this is unfolding in our very own hemisphere," he said.

Guaido faces an increasingly weary population that in recent months has shown waning enthusiasm for more demonstrations. Many opposition sympathizers have become frustrated by Maduro's continued grip on power.

"It is urgent to find a solution to the crisis quickly ... we are looking for a joint vision for the participation of the international community," Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio told the meeting.

The Lima Group also includes Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Bolivia, Mexico, Haiti, Argentina and St Lucia.


(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)